Fate of a man accused of killing a woman in a hit and run, but claims he didn’t stop because he thought he had hit an animal, is now in the hands of a jury
Fate of a man accused of killing a woman in a hit and run, but claims he didn’t stop because he thought he had hit an animal, is now in the hands of a jury

Hit and run accused thought woman was a wallaby: Court

THE fate of a man accused of killing a woman in a hit and run when he was a teenager - who claims he didn't stop because he thought he had hit an animal - is now in the hands of a jury.

Jack West, who was 18 at the time, pleaded not guilty to one charge of hit and run causing death on the first day of his trial on Monday.

The court heard that both parties agreed that West had been driving his father's Toyota HiLux on the Stuart Highway at Humpty Doo about 2.30am on July 1, 2018, after attending a birthday party in Adelaide River.

He hit 41-year-old Kate Coughlan, who suffered "catastrophic injuries" and died at the scene.

At the time, West had been driving at a speed of 162km/h and had a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.151.

He then drove to his grandparents' house in Palmerston where he was reportedly "sobbing" and "beside himself".

Jack West (R) after being tried over charges relating to a fatal alleged hit and run on Bagot Rd Picture GLENN CAMPBELL
Jack West (R) after being tried over charges relating to a fatal alleged hit and run on Bagot Rd Picture GLENN CAMPBELL

But West's lawyer Marty Aust told the court his client did not stop and help because he did not realise he had hit a person. He said West told police he was driving when he heard a "boom", but assumed it was a wallaby because the car wasn't noticeably damaged.

"If it was a person, I would have stopped," the court heard West told police the next day.

"If I'd seen her I would have stopped."

Mr Aust said his client was upset because of the damage he had caused to his father's car, and that West was afraid of what his father would do.

However, Crown prosecutor Matt Nathan SC told the court that West's emotional state at his grandparents' house was "more consistent with an awareness, a realisation, of what he's just done".

The court also heard from one witness at the event at Adelaide River - who the NT News has chosen not to name - who said when West returned he said to her "don't tell anyone but I've hit someone in Humpty Doo" and "I think I might have killed them."

But Mr Aust said she might have misheard because "she went back to bed and went to sleep" straight afterwards. The jury went out to deliberate yesterday.

Originally published as Man pleads not guilty to fatal hit and run because 'he thought it was a wallaby'


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